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Top 10 Air Disinfection Questions

In this post:

  • Top 10 list of questions commonly asked about air disinfection
  • Answers to your air disinfection questions
  • A review of different air purification technology and tools


Air disinfection and purification are rising to the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 and other emerging pathogens, as part of a comprehensive plan that includes surface disinfecting, social distancing, and masking. 

Clean Air System Haiku UV-C in fitness studio

Big Ass Fans® Clean Air System - Haiku UV-C Fan in a fitness studio


1. How do you kill germs in the air?

Before we get to the right ways to eliminate germs from the air, let's start with how not to kill germs in the air, namely spraying or using disinfectants. Disinfectants are great for surfaces to remove unwanted pathogens, but they are most definitely not effective in the air, as they'll settle on a surface soon after spraying. Not to mention the safety concerns of spraying and then inhaling disinfectants; that can do more harm than good to the inhabitants of the space in question, and to the person who is spraying the disinfectant.  There are, however,  a few tools you can use to kill germs in the air safely and effectively. Air purification tools like HVAC Air Purifiers, Air Filtration Systems, and ceiling or mounted fans with either Ion or UVGI (UV-C) technology not only kill germs and pathogens4 in the air, they also help with dander, pollen, and other allergens, providing safer, healthier air in the spaces that they are used. 


2. How is COVID-19 transmitted by air?

Per the CDC, infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space. This kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread. There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with Covid-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation.  


3. Does electrostatic disinfection work on air?

No, electrostatic disinfection does not work on air. The nature of electrostatically-charged disinfectant particles to "wrap around" surfaces makes them a highly effective tool when it comes to disinfecting surfaces. They are not effective for disinfecting the air. The two most common technologies for air disinfection are UV light and Ionic or anion charging. 


4. What is UV Disinfection?

UV disinfection, known more commonly as UV-C or UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation), harnesses the power of light to destroy bacteria and viruses. The disinfectant effect happens when UV-C light acts as a photocatalyst and causes damage to the bacteria or virus cells, including their DNA or RNA. This damage prevents the pathogens from replicating, rendering them non-infectious. To prevent human exposure to harmful levels of UV-C, this technology is most commonly seen in fans that treat air with upward-facing light, and enclosed air filters. 

Graphic that shows how UV disinfection works


5. What is Ion Disinfection?

Ion disinfection technology has been around for many years, most commonly seen in fans and air filtration systems. Similar in nature to electrostatic sprayers, Ions are electrically charged particles that are proven to attack and eliminate pathogens.  


6. What's a HEPA filter?

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are a type of mechanical air filter; they work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pathogens, pollen, dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. You can find HEPA filters in most air purifiers.

Graphic that shows how HEPA filters work


7. What spaces need air disinfection?

Simply put, nearly all spaces need air disinfection, especially in light of the current pandemic. Workplaces, public facilities, retail and commercial spaces, entertainment venues, fitness centers and other indoor spaces where groups of people congregate are ideal spaces for prioritizing air disinfection and adopting air disinfection tools. 


8. Is ventilation important for indoor air quality?

Yes, proper ventilation is key. Per the EPA, ventilation also helps remove or dilute indoor airborne pollutants coming from indoor sources. This reduces the level of contaminants and improves indoor air quality through natural ventilation, such as through windows and doors. 


Zogics NSpire PRO Premium H13 HEPA Air Filtration System
Zogics NSpire PRO Premium H13 HEPA Air Filtration System


9. Will an air cleaner or air purifier help protect me and my family from Covid-19 in my home?

Air purification and disinfection is just part of the puzzle when it comes to reducing the risk of being infected with the Coronavirus, as noted by the EPA. It's imperative that air purification - air cleaners, air purifiers, Clean Air System fans, and more - are a part of your overall strategy (including continued surface disinfecting, social distancing, and masking). 


10. Can running a HVAC system in my home help protect me from Covid-19?

Yes. There are two things to consider if you have an HVAC system. The first is to ensure that your HVAC filter is clean and replaced/serviced as often as necessary. HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a building or small space. The second thing to consider? Additional tools like HVAC air purifiers which can further reduce pathogens. 

4The Big Ass Fans Clean Air System Ion Generator kills >96% of bacteria and fungi on surfaces in 60 minutes. Bacteria testing includes Escherichia coli, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Streptococcus equi and Fungi testing for Aspergillus niger.

All Ion and UV-C testing was completed in enclosed indoor spaces. In outdoor spaces overhead and directional fans can increase dilution airflow in occupied spaces. Fan operating speed is proportional to the airflow delivered by the fan. Increased operating speed will increase the generation of ions for fans with ionization technologies. Increased operating speed will increase the rate of room air mixing for fans with ionization or UVC technologies.


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Interested in learning more about improving your indoor air quality? We'll conduct a FREE airflow analysis of your space with the Big Ass Fans® Clean Air System. Get started today!

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